If we are to take comedian Sarah Kendall at her own word, she must be an exceptional liar.
“If someone is a good storyteller,” she says, “then by definition they are a good liar. As everything they tell you is in aid of the story.”
And where stories are concerned, Kendall can sure spin a fine yarn.
She has twice been nominated for the main Edinburgh award, first in 2004 and then last August for A Day in October, the show she now brings to Soho Theatre.
Over these years Kendall has shifted from stand-up towards storytelling. And while it's storytelling told through the prism of a comedic performance, it's also story in its most ancient form: “For me, telling stories is about sitting round a cave and in this era of, say, CGI, when storytelling is this hugely expensive endeavour, I love the simplicity of just holding a microphone.”
During a Kendall show it's interesting to look at her audience lost in rapt concentration, and within the hour she elicits shocked gasps, along with laughs, as her story twists and turns:. “What I love about it is that people instantly lean forward and listen.”
A Day in October takes us to small-town life in Newcastle, New South Wales. It's the early 90s, the economy is bust and an adolescent Kendall is slicing gherkins in McDonald's. This town of “teenage politics and teenage dramas” is a far cry from the soap operas of Australian life we were enjoying back in the UK around the same time. Kendall's shows have a darker tone. She is well aware of this perception gap when she writes: “In a way, it's undermining the Neighbours and Home and Away stereotype of Australian teenagers, these happy-go-lucky, outdoorsy types.”
Kendall wasn't the kind of teenager from Erinsborough or Summer Bay; she was almost as unpopular as her friend George Peach. Mercilessly bullied, the day in October of the title centres around Peach and a near fatal accident on a school trip which changes the playground hierarchy.